Pastor at diver’s funeral: Don’t cast blame after tragedy

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Christopher Boodram, lone survivor of the Paria accident, hugs the coffin of former colleague Yusuf Henry while beilng consoled by a friend at Henry’s funeral at the Valencia Pentecostal Church on Kangalee Street, Valencia, on Wednesday. – AYANNA KINSALE

Despite the pain they may feel over their loss, the family and friends of diver Yusuf Henry are being asked to avoid casting blame and leave judgment to God.

Henry, 31, was one of four divers who died while trapped in a 30-inch pipeline at the Paria Fuel Trading Co Ltd compound, Pointe-a-Pierre, on February 25.

On Monday the engineering contractor, LMCS Ltd, issued a media release accusing Paria of preventing the company from rescuing its employees, adding that Paria should be held accountable.

Shortly afterwards, Paria issued a media release in response disputing these claims.

Giving the homily at Henry’s funeral at the Valencia Pentecostal Assembly on Wednesday, pastor Nolan Warner said, while the circumstances leading up to the accident may stir feelings of anger and grief, blaming others would not undo the tragedy.

“If I listen to what is happening on the radio, television and news, I am confused. Somebody is saying, ‘It’s their fault,’ the other person is saying, ‘It’s not my fault,’ and the other person is saying, ‘It’s all of their fault.’

“If I listen to the politicians, as they speak, I’m not certain what I can get from it, and the risk we run is that we ourselves try to appropriate blame, and in appropriating blame we also make the judgment and would want to give the executioner of our own judgment permission to act.”

But, he said, “We’ve come to celebrate his (Henry’s) life. Let us not use hate to define and determine the value and purpose of his life. Let us not become so judgmental that we lose sight of the person we are missing and grieving.

“What ought to happen here is we allow God’s justice to take its course, and if humans desire and determine to be part of the system of justice that God will execute, then that’s fine. But for us, we celebrate his life.”

Warner also said it may be difficult, but he urged mourners to forgive those who may be responsible for the divers’ deaths, as holding onto hate may be counterproductive to the recovery process.

“I want to recommend strongly that we choose forgiveness long before we find out who is guilty and who is not.”

He also called on mourners not to taint Henry’s memory with thoughts of anger and revenge, but to use their energy to comfort his family.

Henry’s mother Nicole Greenidge delivered the eulogy, in which she recalled the grief she felt after hearing what had happened.

Greenidge said she had spoken with Christopher Boodram, the only survivor, and was heartened by his attempts to rescue her son.

“After speaking with Christopher, I feel a sense of comfort, as he shared with me that Yusuf called on Jesus during his time of tragedy.

“He said, ‘Mom, Yusuf and I prayed loud and constant, and I’m certain the other guys who perished also prayed.'”

Noting that Henry was her third son to die within a three months, Greenidge said she was often asked how she found the strength to cope with the losses. She credited her faith and the support of family. In December another of her sons died of a blood clot and one of covid19.

She also offered her support to the families of the other men who died, and prayed for justice.

Henry was buried at the Turure Public Cemetery.